Archives for June, 2012
So often we are told to visualize what we want, and then our chances of achieving it will be greatly increased. While this idea is easy to understand and based in the study of neuroscience, the reality of it may actually be much more difficult for some people. For people who are enveloped in self doubt, fear and worry, the tendency to second guess the visualization can be quite strong. Yes, we may be able to create the image of what we want -- let’s say it is to find the perfect partner -- but we will struggle to hold the image. So when the going gets tough, and we tend to doubt our future, we will also question the image itself. Questions like, “Can I really find love?” and, “Does he/she actually love me?” will ring through our ears.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) is pretty innovative. But then again, so is equine therapy. Perhaps this is why SMWC just launched a new minor in it. According to Janet Clark, Ph.D., Vice President of Academic Affairs, the human equine-facilitated minor, which was developed by the department of social sciences and the department of equine studies, allows students to be well prepared for a meaningful career in equine work. “This unique minor is a natural extension of SMWC’s strengths,” Clark said. “Capitalizing on our nationally renowned equine program and excellent social sciences program creates a powerful combination for delivering another program of distinction. Our students care deeply about service to others and this new minor gives them another outlet to make a difference.”
After the popularity of my last interview with an equine therapy professional, I thought another would be appropriate. This one is with occupational therapist Amanda DeLizzio. DeLizzio specializes in hippotherapy, and works at the Memorial Hospital program in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Memorial Health System partners with Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center (PPTRC) in Falcon to provide these services. PPTRC is the only therapeutic riding center in the region that has received premier accredited status from the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. 1. What would you say are the largest benefits of equine therapy? There are so many benefits to using an equine in therapy. The biggest benefit in the fields of occupational and physical therapy are improving postural control, core strength and endurance, balance, coordination and motor planning. These are more the physical benefits, but there are also so many emotional and psychological benefits as well. Children are empowered by riding the horse; they get an amazing sense of power and control by riding a one thousand pound animal. The children really connect with the horses and gain so much self-confidence.
While we frequently speak about having more “balance” in our lives, the term can seem a bit vacuous. What exactly do we mean by more balance? And further, does the term refer to psychological balance, such as equal parts positive and negative emotions? Or are we speaking about balance between psychological and physical energy? Clearly, balance can be hard to define, and even harder to find. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the forerunners of positive psychology and the foremost researcher of the experience of flow -- as defined by having an intense experience where we are completely immersed in something where the demands placed upon us seem to match our capacities perfectly. There is an absence of conscious thought, and the mood is characterized by a state of being contented, peaceful and satisfied. Interestingly, whatever it is we do when we are in a state of flow, we must be in balance. For the dancer, the painter, the actor, or the singer who experiences this ecstatic experience, should they be off balance, their ability to meet the demands placed upon them would be compromised. Such is the state when we are on the back of a horse. Should our balance falter, we could, in the worst scenario, fall off. In a less severe state, we would feel as if we were going to fall off.
While there are a number of ways to describe equine therapy to those not familiar with horses, sometimes there is nothing better than a personal interview. For this blog, I interviewed Pam Salem, an equine expert and co-facilitator of the equine therapy experiential program at English Mountain Recovery. Pam is also the founder of Equine Assisted Assets, which is dedicated to the growth and advancement of equine therapy.
For those of us in the equine world, one of the most exciting things is a horse show. Seeing all of the competitors exhibiting the best of their many years of hard work, dedication and passion into one seemingly fleeting moment in which everything seems to hang in the air. All can be won or lost in that moment, and many great riders have often said, “if only I had it to do over.” Just as many have rejoiced, exalted, in total awe, of the magnificent animal underneath them. This intensity, this level of adrenaline, is not only known to equestrians. Veterans, those whose lives are on the line constantly, who must put everything they have into what they do, just to survive, know it too.
Parents will go to great lengths to improve their skills. During challenging times, when parent-child relationships become fractured, the adults in the equation can feel particularly frustrated and in need of resources. And although there are a great many books and articles on methods of parenting through difficult times, what parents may really need is a way to practice these skills on something other than their child. Typically, when in the midst of conflict, both the parents and the child will carry anger, hurt and frustration of the fractured relationship, imposing it onto even neutral relational exchanges. We have all seen this, and most likely, all done it as well: a person becomes so angry at another that they have trouble getting past the anger enough to do the things that are necessary for the relationship to heal.